This year, I’ve read 16 books so far, after reading just 10 in 2019. I currently have seven books on my to be read pile, which I hope will take me until the end of the year. Hopefully, by Christmas, I’ll have read 23 books, with some to unwrap on December 25 to kickstart my 2021 reading list.
I had a few lockdown-purchased books left on my bookshelf, but after a particularly miserable Tuesday, I headed to the supermarket and treated myself to four new books I’d seen floating around on people’s Instagram grids.
Particularly in the past few months, getting lost in a book has helped me take a break from my screens, which can be hard when you work on computers all day, and run two blogs. As personal preference, I like books with short, choppy chapters that I can read between other things, like the kettle boiling or the bath running. All of the books on this to be read pile have easy-to-digest chapters that are perfect for busy people who don’t find much time to read.
Let me know what you’re currently reading, or what’s on your to be read pile, so I can add it to my list of books to check out.
The Heatwave by Kate Riordan
This was a Richard and Judy book club pick, and is a thriller said to be ‘atmospheric and unsettling’. I love a psychological crime themed book that has you guessing what happened, or is going to happen next, with plot twists and big reveals. From a quick glance at the chapters, the book flits between the past, when Elodie was young, and the present, where mother Sylvie is still trying to protect her younger daughter, Emma, from the truth.
Elodie was beautiful. Elodie was smart. Elodie was troubled. Elodie is dead.
In Provence, under a sweltering sun, Sylvie returns to the crumbling family home of La Reverie with her youngest daughter Emma.
Yet every corner of the house is haunted by the memories of Elodie, her first child – memories she has tried to forget, but whose long-ago death the villagers certainly haven’t.
As temperatures rise, and forest fires rage through the French countryside, memories of Elodie spread further through Sylvie’s mind . . .
Because there’s something Sylvie’s been hiding about what happened to Elodie all those summers ago. And it could change everything.
The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri
The Beekeeper of Aleppo is a book recommended at the back of The Tattooist of Auschwitz, which I read in 2019 on my flight to New York. The story absolutely broke my heart, so no doubt The Beekeeper of Aleppo is going to be just as powerful. Author Christy isc the daughter of Cypriot refugees, who has since spent time working as a volunteer at a Unicef supported refugee centre in Athens. The Beekeeper of Aleppo is said to be a book of loss, hope, light and dark – I’ll be sure to complete it on a Saturday so I can spend Sunday sobbing under a blanket.
In the midst of war, he found love
In the midst of darkness, he found courage
In the midst of tragedy, he found hope
Nuri is a beekeeper; his wife, Afra, an artist. They live a simple life, rich in family and friends, in the beautiful Syrian city of Aleppo – until the unthinkable happens. When all they care for is destroyed by war, they are forced to escape.
As Nuri and Afra travel through a broken world, they must confront not only the pain of their own unspeakable loss, but dangers that would overwhelm the bravest of souls. Above all – and perhaps this is the hardest thing they face – they must journey to find each other again.
The Foundling by Stacey Halls
I wanted to pick up The Foundling as soon as I read The Familiars earlier this year. I really enjoyed Stacey’s dedication to research and writing style, so I’m excited to dive into her second novel after such a strong debut. The Foundling is set in 1754, and I trust that Stacey will have done much research into the period to produce the story about ‘families, secrets, class, equality, power and the meaning of motherhood’.
Two women, bound by a child, and a secret that will change everything…
London, 1754. Six years after leaving her illegitimate daughter Clara at London’s Foundling Hospital, Bess Bright returns to reclaim the child she has never known. Dreading the worst, that Clara has died in care, Bess is astonished to be told she has already claimed her. Her life is turned upside down as she tries to find out who has taken her little girl – and why.
Less than a mile from Bess’s lodgings in the city, in a quiet, gloomy townhouse on the edge of London, a young widow has not left the house in a decade. When her close friend – an ambitious young doctor at the Foundling Hospital – persuades her to hire a nursemaid for her daughter, she is hesitant to welcome someone new into her home and her life. But her past is threatening to catch up with her and tear her carefully constructed world apart.
Unnatural Causes by Dr Richard Shepherd
This was gifted to me by Melanie, at Melanie With an IE, who works in Histopathology for the NHS. When I started my journalism career, I was a dedicated Health journalist, and one of my very first articles was a tour of our local mortuary. Ever since, I’ve been absolutely fascinated by the role, which I often encounter in other parts of my job now. As a journalist, I cover a lot of inquests, which frequently have post-mortem reports filled with medical terms and long words. As well as taking an interest in the work, I thought Unnatural Causes would help give me a deeper understanding of autopsy reports, and in turn, make me a better journo.
Meet the forensic pathologist, Dr Richard Shepherd.
He solves the mysteries of unexplained or sudden death.
He has performed over 23,000 autopsies, including some of the most high-profile cases of recent times; the Hungerford Massacre, the Princess Diana inquiry, and 9/11.
He has faced serial killers, natural disaster, ‘perfect murders’ and freak accidents.
His evidence has put killers behind bars, freed the innocent, and turned open-and-shut cases on their heads.
Yet all this has come at a huge personal cost.
Unnatural Causes tells the story of not only the cases and bodies that have haunted him the most, but also how to live a life steeped in death.
Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo
I spotted this on Alice Spake’s reading list, and since her recommendations are usually right up my street, I made it one of my many book purchases in Sainsbury’s whilst feeling a bit sorry for myself. The book covers the interwoven stories of 12 women exploring identity, race and womanhood in the UK – something we’ve all seen, particularly in recent months, isn’t an easy ride.
This is Britain as you’ve never read it.
This is Britain as it has never been told.
From Newcastle to Cornwall, from the birth of the twentieth century to the teens of the twenty-first, Girl, Woman, Other follows a cast of twelve characters on their personal journeys through this country and the last hundred years. They’re each looking for something – a shared past, an unexpected future, a place to call home, somewhere to fit in, a lover, a missed mother, a lost father, even just a touch of hope . . .
The Binding by Bridget Collins
This has been on my To Be Read pile for far too long, and I keep putting it to the back of the pile. But I’ve heard so many great things about it, and I’m desperate to get into it. I guess I’m just worried it’ll be a slow burner and will take me a while to read. But the mystical element to the story is sucking me in, and I’m dying to know Emmett’s secret – the thing he wanted to forget.
Emmett Farmer is a binder’s apprentice. His job is to hand-craft beautiful books and, within each, to capture something unique and extraordinary: a memory.
If you have something you want to forget, or a secret to hide, he can bind it – and you will never have to remember the pain it caused.
In a vault under his mentor’s workshop, row upon row of books – and secrets – are meticulously stored and recorded.
Then one day Emmett makes an astonishing discovery: one of the volumes has his name on it.
The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell
The final book on my To Be Read pile is The Family Upstairs, another crime thriller I can’t wait to sink my teeth into. The blurb has me itching to know what’s happened, so I can’t imagine this taking me long to read. It’s been described in reviews as ‘twisty and engrossing’ – I’ll need a free day to power through this one.
In a large house in London’s fashionable Chelsea, a baby is awake in her cot. Well-fed and cared for, she is happily waiting for someone to pick her up.
In the kitchen lie three decomposing corpses. Close to them is a hastily scrawled note.
They’ve been dead for several days.
Who has been looking after the baby?
And where did they go?
Is there anything on my to be read pile that you’ll be adding to yours?